Backlinks are the most important ranking factor in Google. Period! This is how it has been for the last years and how it will be for at least the coming years. The more good backlinks your website has, the better rankings in Google you’ll get. At Monitor Backlinks, we are often asked if it’s safe to do link building. The answer depends on who you ask.
Needless to say, if you ask anyone from Google, they will tell you it’s not. On the other hand, those that have been involved in SEO will tell you that you have build backlinks in order to improve your rankings. However, there are wrong and correct ways to build backlinks.
Recently, John Mueller was asked in a Google Webmaster hangout if link building is good for webmasters. His answer came as no surprise to most of us. He says it’s better to avoid building backlinks because it can cause more problems than good.
Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Question: Is link building in any way good for webmasters?
John Mueller’s answer: That’s a good question. In general, I try to avoid that so that you’re really sure that your content stands on its own. And make it possible for other people too, of course, link to your content. Make it easy. Maybe put a little widget on your page, ‘If you like this, this is how you can link to it’. Make sure that your URL’s on your website are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier. We do use links as part of our algorithms, but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your website than it actually helps.
Should you avoid doing link building?
As expected, John said link building is bad. I would have been very surprised if he had said differently. After all, this what Google wants you to think. Google has never encouraged webmasters to build backlinks because that would be like telling everyone it’s fine to trick their algorithm. Or like a casino would recommend you to count the cards at a BlackJack game. Obviously, that will never happen.
Ideally, all websites should have only natural backlinks. By natural I mean earned, not built by the webmasters or marketers. Nevertheless, we are all aware that getting good links is very challenging.
The truth is that if you want to promote your website and get better SEO rankings, you have to build backlinks. However, there has to be a balance between the number of backlinks you are building and their quality. Building hundreds of links, especially if they are of low-quality will cause more problems than good. As long as you are building high-quality backlinks, at a natural pace, you will be safe.
All this reminds me of last year when Matt Cutts started to blame guest posts, and everyone panicked and thought this method to build links will soon die. That was, of course, false, as I proved in my previous article where I showed how Google itself is accepting guest articles, and linking with do follow links to author’s websites. Low-quality guest articles are the only ones going to die. Same goes for backlinks.
As for widgets, John must have been tired or something. Otherwise, I can’t see any explanation for recommending adding a widget to your website. At least without mentioning adding a nofollow attribute to the links.
That’s because lots of websites received penalties for building backlinks through widgets. I mean big names, like Godaddy, for example. Here’s Matt Cutts take on widgets:
Building links to your website is not bad, as long as you are concentrating on getting high-quality links from authoritative domains. There’s nothing wrong with building backlinks through the broken link building method, for example. Just pay close attention to doing this the right way. Don’t waste your time and money on sloppy methods.